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  • Posted March 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Possibly Sawyer's Best!

    Sawyer puts a little bit of everything into this book from robotics, to brain studies, to psychology to philosophy with a little bit of high drama and excellent courtroom cross-examination. He studies the question "what makes a person"? and takes it way beyond what Asimov presented in the Millenium Man story.

    Jake Sullivan, a man with an illness that will eventually kill him decides to opt for a process called Mindscan where a copy of his mind will be uploaded to a robot brain and will live on as Jake on Earth why Jake goes to a pleasant retirement home on the moon to live out his remaining days. The "new" Jake faces all kinds of rejections from the people he knew, even his dog. He experiences new sensations like being able to see colors for the first time (he was color blind) and having too much idle time on his hands with no time to fill it since his biological self used it for sleeping, eating and other biological processes that Jake no longer needs to do.

    He meets and bonds with Karen, another mindscan who was 85 but has chosen a robot body that is about 30 while Jake was in his early 40's. The differences in their eras is what makes them so attractive to each other and they find that they have plenty to talk to each other even during "idle" time.

    When Karen's biological self dies, her son begins a court battle to claim his inheritance, claiming that the mindscan version of Karen has no rights because she is not really Karen. The court tension is amazing and great philosophical arguments are presented in a well scripted matter.

    To add another problem, Jake's biological self finds a cure for his ailment and then wants to regain his former life from his mindscanned version.

    Sawyer has outdone himself this time convincing me he is the best of the current Scifi writers out there today!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2006

    What does it mean to be human?

    Mindscan offers a fascinating premise: what if you could upload your memories and personality into an android - in essence, making a durable, exact copy of yourself - while your mortal self is left to live out his/her days essentially forgotten and discarded? Sawyer's novel raises intriguing questions about what it means to be human, and whether a flesh-and-blood body is really necessary to obtain the 'human' label. Unlike Mark Wakely's clever novel An Audience for Einstein - which has human consciousness transferred from one person to another after death, raising its own unique and troubling ethical questions- here you have the fascinating 'problem' of two sets of you. Which one is the real you, or are they both real? As you might expect, the question ends up in court, as the son of a wealthy woman who had herself transferred to an android before she died seeks what he believes to be his 'rightful' inheritance - by cheating death, his mother didn't play by the rules, or so he claims. On the other hand, is the android really his mother, with rights like any living, breathing person? Or is she just a machine now despite her consciousness? These unanswered questions make Mindscan a fascinating story, one that will leave you pondering the eternal question of what it means to be a human being. Recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2005

    Solid Mix of Science, Philosophy, and Story

    The best science fiction always results in self-reflection and consideration of both philosophy and the arc of mankind's future. Rob Sawyer's willingness to meet that challenge is what makes him one of today's finest SF writers. His characters are real--flawed, uncertain, and sometimes even selfish. You won't get the type of set-piece action sequences that authors like Crichton drop in to ease adaptation for the big screen, but what you do get is excellent elaboration of current scientific and technological research, solid explanations of philosophical viewpoints, great analogies, and characters you care about. The first half of the book is nothing short of splendid, weakening in plausibility in the second half only a bit. (It's not that the courtroom scenes aren't interesting and procedurally correct, it's just that everyone involved could have and realistically would have done more to protect their legal position going in to the situation, with the stakes being so high.) As a Sawyer fan and someone who has written about mankind's almost inevitable transition to a world where uploaded consciousness occurs (though it is fair to say that my view of that transition is much less optimistic than Sawyer's), I heartily recommend Mindscan. Donald J. Bingle, Author of Forced Conversion.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2011


    Stayed up all night reading!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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